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Weird question ... can I donate barely used underwear?


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I have decided that life is too short to wear underwear that I hate.  I found a brand I like and am replacing all the stuff I don't.  I have a bunch of underwear that just didn't work out for me ... worn maybe once or twice.  I hate to throw it away, but I know that I wouldn't buy used underwear.  What say the hive?  Do I let go of my desire to contribute fewer things to landfills and just toss it?  Or does anyone have a better idea?

(Questions like these are what my front line in the battle against clutter.)  

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12 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

See I think it jut depends (no pun intended).  Most of what I’d donate I ordered online, tried on, and decided I didn’t like the fit but didn’t want to bother returning it.  Or had too much weight change too quickly to really wear them.  That’s brand new or barely used, and most are $10-25 a pair.  Same with bras - are we really saying someone wouldn’t want a $125 Empreinte bra I wore three times?

 

Maybe I’m just way less picky, but with some laundering I’d buy that in the right size!

I agree.  I also think that it shows an awful lot of socioeconomic privilege to automatically turn up your nose at what are really perfectly good clothes.  It's not like the OP is planning on donating things directly from her laundry hamper.  And I assume that she has access to laundry products and a washing machine that works correctly. 

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Years ago some colleagues and I were discussing this question.  One of them grew up in a very poor family.  She said donate.  If it weren't for someone donating used bras, she would not have owned one until she was an adult.  Poor children endure a lot of teasing, having a bra to wear to school removed one stigma.

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30 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I agree.  I also think that it shows an awful lot of socioeconomic privilege to automatically turn up your nose at what are really perfectly good clothes.  It's not like the OP is planning on donating things directly from her laundry hamper.  And I assume that she has access to laundry products and a washing machine that works correctly. 

Yes, I am privileged. We cannot and do not put underwear on sick people. We don't care, and usually don't know, the socioeconomic status of our patients (payor information cannot be accessed by those in patient care). If that makes me ungrateful, so be it. But, rest assured, patients in our hospital that have soiled their underwear will get brand new, never worn before underwear that will be provided at no cost to them or their insurance companies. This is all thanks to our generous donors, who value the dignity of every person who comes through our doors.

If you're going to donate underwear (again, eeewwww), at least donate it somewhere where people will be making a choice whether or not to wear it and not to people who must wear it because there is nothing else available.

 

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3 minutes ago, TechWife said:

Yes, I am privileged. We cannot and do not put underwear on sick people. We don't care, and usually don't know, the socioeconomic status of our patients (payor information cannot be accessed by those in patient care). If that makes me ungrateful, so be it. But, rest assured, patients in our hospital that have soiled their underwear, they will get brand new, never worn before underwear that will be provided at no cost to them or their insurance companies. This is all thanks to our generous donors, who value the dignity of every person who comes through our doors.

If you're going to donate underwear (again, eeewwww), at least donate it somewhere where people will be making a choice whether or not to wear it and not to people who must wear it because there is nothing else available.

 

As far as I know, the OP doesn't even know where your hospital is and is not donating to it.  She's talking about donating it to places that sell or have other uses for items.  No one is being coerced into wearing underwear of any kind - used or not. 

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12 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

As far as I know, the OP doesn't even know where your hospital is and is not donating to it.  She's talking about donating it to places that sell or have other uses for items.  No one is being coerced into wearing underwear of any kind - used or not. 

Then I'll continue to "turn my nose up" this idea, thanks. I'll also continue to provide my perspective as someone who uses donated items to care for others.

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3 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

But this is kind of appalling thinking.  Like, there is nothing undignified in used undergarments?  I can’t even wrap my brain around why it’s okay for middle class married women to use or donate them, but it’s apparently beyond the pale to utilize them for someone infirm?

 

It’s exactly that perpetuation of stereotype that contributes to the stigma.  I totally get not using damaged or overly worn used clothes, but in good condition?  That’s asinine.

It has to do with infection control. Used underwear may have residual body fluids. We do not have the capability to wash donations.

We do have a clothes closet that contains used clothing and outerwear for discharged patients (not used underwear, though) but it is not in a patient care area. 

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Someone please explain to me why used underwear is ewww/gross. I certainly would never wear used underwear without washing it. And I don't purchase it for myself. But my kids have all worn hand-me-down and used underwear. I buy myself new because the stuff at secondhand stores around here is generally not in good condition. So I don't feel it's a good value. But if it was that or no underwear, I certainly would buy it. Then I'd wash it and not give it a second thought.

Aren't washing machines designed to get things clean?

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16 minutes ago, barnwife said:

Someone please explain to me why used underwear is ewww/gross. I certainly would never wear used underwear without washing it. And I don't purchase it for myself. But my kids have all worn hand-me-down and used underwear. I buy myself new because the stuff at secondhand stores around here is generally not in good condition. So I don't feel it's a good value. But if it was that or no underwear, I certainly would buy it. Then I'd wash it and not give it a second thought.

Aren't washing machines designed to get things clean?

In the context I work in (a hospital), we do not have the capability to wash clothes. If someone donates used underwear, I have no idea if, how, when, with what it was washed. Used underwear can contain traces of blood, urine, feces, yeast, perspiration, antiperspirant or deodorant. They also put patients at risk of exposure to lice, scabies and other pests.

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14 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

If you cannot wash donations, that is its own kind of gross.  Even outerwear should really be cleaned before being passed along.  I’ll give that an eww.  But honestly socks, headwear, and pants would be equally gross to undies in that scale. 

We also don't take used socks or used head wear. The clothes closet is managed by volunteers and when items are needed, a request is sent to the staff through email with laundering requirements. We don't take external donations, so it helps manage the expectation of cleanliness. Discharged patients don't return to patient care areas so the risk of spreading any infections to other patients is greatly reduced.

Having been in a hospital environment, we can't control for everything - patients have visitors in various states of cleanliness, for example, and we don't even try to control that. We are responsible for the patients, though, and do our best for them. Patients arrive in all states, but we will help them out while they are here by having showers & toiletries available and we try to allow everyone to leave with clean clothing. Either someone brings clothing for them from home, or they visit the clothes closet. Not all patients want showers, though, and that is hard. If it is or becomes a health concern, the clinical staff addresses it.  Working in a  hospital is hard for so many reasons - this is one people don't often think about.

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Well, I've never bought used undies, but I've bought used swim suits many times.  

I've wondered the donation question, so thanks for asking, OP.  Once I had 2 kiddos outgrow the same size underwear at the same time (30+ pairs of girls size 16 in great condition! How?!) and I hated to trash them! I bundled them all up (freshly laundered) in a bag, tagged with quantity and size, and dropped them off at the donation box. I figured if they didn't want them, they could toss them. 

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I worked at Target right after I got married, and as the store operator, during downtime, one of my jobs was repack.

I became a professional. Underwear that looks brand new in an unopened package...might not be. And people in stores try on underwear. You can hope it's over their existing underwear, but there's no guarantee. And there's a store employee just like me, whose job it is to make it look like those packages have never been opened and nothing ever removed from them.

Just something to think about when you're getting precious about buying underwear. I always, always wash new underwear before wearing it. On hot. No exceptions. You just never know.

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46 minutes ago, TechWife said:

In the context I work in (a hospital), we do not have the capability to wash clothes. If someone donates used underwear, I have no idea if, how, when, with what it was washed. Used underwear can contain traces of blood, urine, feces, yeast, perspiration, antiperspirant or deodorant. They also put patients at risk of exposure to lice, scabies and other pests.


Yes, but the OP was asking in general...not about your specific location! And the answer is, yes, many places accept used undergarments.

And as others have said, people purchasing such things (whether because they need to or want to) are not "less than" people who are able to purchase new. I'm sorry, TechWife, but your posts in this thread are coming across as very entitled/privileged. And you seem to be digging in your heels about it, which is very different from what I think of as your usual tone in posting.

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The local Title 1 schools actually have that as a standing request for their clothes closet.  My church donates, I would have just thrown them out otherwise, I wouldn't have thought people would have wanted them.  (Donated the kids' underwear when they outgrew them.  I also bought a few packets in sizes they especially needed.)

A homeless shelter or women's shelter may also want them.  If you are in the size range of a middle school or high school student, and your local Title 1 schools have a need, you could donate to a Title 1 school in your area.

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When in doubt, google the specific charity or thrift store.  As mentioned previously in a link, some might not use them at their location but pass it on to other charities for other uses - to send overseas, to use as insulation (denim is now used for this) etc.  You may be told "no" and have no other choice but to toss it, but don't just assume that will be the answer.  I'm passionate about this for a number of reasons:  1)  I have worked a lot with at risk populations and I know how they need inexpensive products and clothing to make their dollar stretch as much as it can  2)  I know how local charities sell items and benefit people who need cheaper clothing while also raising money for programs serving those same at risk populations 3)  there are global needs that get addressed in a world wide network of charities which have learned to work together 4) landfill space is getting more and more harder to come by and we really need to think smarter about all of this. 

I just called around for two days to various charities and programs to find out where I could donate some items.  I just talked to the chaplain for the juvenile court system and she is very happy to get what I have to offer.  Sometimes it takes a bit of leg (or finger) work but it is worth it to not waste what we have. 

 

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1 hour ago, TechWife said:

In the context I work in (a hospital), we do not have the capability to wash clothes. If someone donates used underwear, I have no idea if, how, when, with what it was washed. Used underwear can contain traces of blood, urine, feces, yeast, perspiration, antiperspirant or deodorant. They also put patients at risk of exposure to lice, scabies and other pests.

How are gowns, sheets and towels handled in your hospital? At least for the times I’ve been in a hopital, bodily fluids are an assumed thing and somehow all those items are shared.

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The local clothes thrift store (which supports abused women trying to get away from their abusers) will toss any underwear, stockings, pantyhose not in a sealed container, etc. They used to be in a location where they washed everything they were going to put out for sale, but their new location doesn't have the facilities or room for that. So, if it is soiled, has visible holes, or is in the categories I listed, they just toss it. Actually, I think they used to put it into a separate shed - and when the shed was full, they'd take everything to Goodwill (nearest location is quite a drive). But, I'm not sure they do that anymore.

Anyway, you can always donate it & they can decide what to do with it.

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Thanks for your input.  I contacted our local Goodwill and they do take donated underwear.  Like anything else, if it is in salable condition, it gets put out on the floor.  If not, it gets used as rags/filling.  I hadn't even thought about the bras.  I have several that are in good condition, but not my size and a few that are worse for wear.  

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2 hours ago, Acorn said:

How are gowns, sheets and towels handled in your hospital? At least for the times I’ve been in a hopital, bodily fluids are an assumed thing and somehow all those items are shared.

They are washed in an appropriate manner, We are in control of every aspect of the process. 

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5 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

But can’t wash undies?

In defense of TechWife’s hospital, not all departments (like hospital charities) have access to hospital type laundry services. Each charity gets to decide what is the best use of their time and money. I didn’t get mad when I found out that our locak food bank.no  longer takes baby supplies. I found a different place that was happy to receive them. 

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51 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

But can’t wash undies?

Correct. Use of the laundry is limited to hospital owned items. They don't wash anything other than that, including patient's personal items and donated items. There is no time, no room and no funds.

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4 hours ago, barnwife said:


Yes, but the OP was asking in general...not about your specific location! And the answer is, yes, many places accept used undergarments.

And as others have said, people purchasing such things (whether because they need to or want to) are not "less than" people who are able to purchase new. I'm sorry, TechWife, but your posts in this thread are coming across as very entitled/privileged. And you seem to be digging in your heels about it, which is very different from what I think of as your usual tone in posting.

I understand. I answered from my experience & my perspective, which is not universal (I never said it was).   I have already said I am privileged, I recognize that. The OP is too, if she can decide not to wear underwear that she owns because she hates it, but no one is jumping down her back. I never said people who purchase such things are "less than," and I do not think that. Do they have different ideas of what is acceptable and what isn't - yes, they do. Please don't read into what I am writing, like you said, it's not my usual tone and it's not my tone here. I am offering my opinion, which many people disagree with. That's fine. Someone "accused" me of being privileged, I responded. People asked specific questions, I tried to answer them. Standing by my opinion is not "digging in."

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

No, you didn't say that people who purchase used underwear are 'less than."  

 

What you DID say was "eeewwww" at least three times in relation to the very concept of donating used underthings.  I believe that that absolutely implies that people who buy used underthings are "eeewww" worthy.  

Dirty underwear is "eeewww." The fact that I have to handle the dirty underwear in order to throw it away is "eeewww." I have no idea where donated, used underwear  came from and whether or not it has been washed, therefore I have to assume it is dirty. It's SOP. Again, I am speaking from my experience.
I haven't implied anything of the sort - I mean what I say and say what I mean. I'm also done defending myself when I have done nothing other than give my opinion, which is based upon my experience.

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This is timely. I ran into a woman at the Salvation Army today who was in need of things for her adult son (houseless). I had new undies and tees to give her but she happily took the used socks, shirts, shorts and pants. The other boxers (used) were accepted by a local mens shelter.

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1 minute ago, Tanaqui said:

I think it's not at all uncommon for many people to feel squicky and weird about other people's undies, but maybe this isn't quite the best place to share those feelings, since we don't know who is reading and where they got their panties?

This thread was not designed as a poll on people’s feelings about buying or wearing used (but clean) underwear. It is about charitable donations. Obviously people will not buy what they don’t feel comfortable wearing.

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I have a bag of underwear listed on my local Buy Nothing right now.  These particular ones are all new except for 1 pair that was worn once and washed but in the past, I have posted bras.  

I grew up poor enough that a good year was getting to go to the thrift store for back to school shopping rather than the clothing bank.  If it can be washed, I really don't see the big deal.  

I've run charities that received donations that we couldn't handle so I definitely urge people to research what a charity can take rather than using it as a free dump.  BUT at least in cities, the larger thrift stores are set up for fullscale fabric recycling.  So donate whatever fabric you can. 

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15 hours ago, Sherry in OH said:

Years ago some colleagues and I were discussing this question.  One of them grew up in a very poor family.  She said donate.  If it weren't for someone donating used bras, she would not have owned one until she was an adult.  Poor children endure a lot of teasing, having a bra to wear to school removed one stigma.

Yup. I had one bra for a few years in 8th grade thru probably 10th. It came in a “grab bag”of clothes some church lady gave to my mother. I can understand feeling “eww” a little better with bottoms underwear, but what horrible thing might lurk in a lightly worn bra? 

I was very thankful to have gotten that bra used because it was a nicer type with shaped cups and it was my size. Before that I had had only thin cotton bras that did not “hide the headlights”. 

When I donate things as an adult, I always imagine what a blessing it might be to someone who has no or limited means of obtaining the thing otherwise; it is the reason I sometimes donate nicer things that could probably be sold. I am “paying back” the Universe for good things donated that made my life better growing up. 

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